I consider myself to be more of a cultural Jew than a religious one. Because of this, some find it surprising that I love Passover. I go all out eating only matzo, no meat with milk, no pork, no shellfish, no random grains that were banned because my people might get them confused with other forbidden grains (*cough* rice *cough*). Anyway, what I really love about Passover are the stories. There are Plagues! Darkness! Disease! Killing first borns! Pissed off G-d! Awesome!
Plus, even though I haven’t been home for Seder in 3 years (this year being the first year I haven’t done one at all), eating the food is a way for me to get back to my roots and remember my family. So, I would like to dedicate this post to my Grandpa, who always hid the afikomen and may or may not have given me more hints than my cousins; and my Dad, while not a Jew, dove in head first into tradition and made Seder more fun (including singing Freak Nasty’s “Da Dip” chorus during the part where you dip parsley into salt water. “You put your hand up on my hip, when I dip, you dip, we dip!”). So, Grandpa and Dad – this is for you!
I didn’t make the whole traditional meal this year, as it was only my fiance and I. So I made a shortened version, with all of my favorite parts plus a few new traditions!
Saphardic Haroset from Epicurious
20 pitted dates, preferably Medjool (I didn’t use Medjool, and it came out fine)
3 bananas (mine were rather green, I’d use more yellow ones in the future)
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup sweet red wine (Manischewitz is the only way to go, here)
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted
1/2 cup unsalted shelled pistachio nuts (not dyed red), toasted
1/2 cup whole almonds, toasted
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
- In food processor, purée dates until smooth. Add bananas, raisins, wine, and honey and process to combine. Add walnuts, pistachios, almonds, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves and process until smooth (I left mine slightly chunky). Store, covered, at room temperature until ready to serve.
1 lb apples (I used Gala, but Fuji work really well)
1 1/2 c toasted walnuts (pieces are fine, they’re going to get chopped up anyway)
1 T cinnamon (or to taste)
5+ T Manischewitz wine (or other sweet wine, but really, Mani is where it’s at – this will be the only time it is ever appropriate to say this).
- Finely chop the apples and the walnuts and mix them with cinnamon in a bowl. Add the wine and mix well. If you make it ahead, make sure to give it a good stir every now and then.
**Warning** This becomes tear gas as you shred it. Only do this in a well-ventilated room. Seriously, this is a weapon of sinus destruction.
1 horseradish root, cleaned and peeled of the outsidey parts
1/4 – 1/2 c apple cider vinegar per 1c shredded horseradish, depending on how soupy you want it
1/4 t salt
- Shred the horseradish, preferably in a food processor on fine, or using a grater by hand, if you’re crazy. Add the salt and vinegar, to your liking. I use more, but I like it a little spreadable. Some recipes use sugar. In my experience, this makes it less hot. As a glutton for punishment, I’d advise against this.
Yes, rolls! Chick in the Kitchen‘s mother is an evil genius. All they are are slightly more eggy matzo balls. So, the ingredients are totally legit, yet they puff up like a roll in the oven. I feel like they’re cheating, slightly, but not enough to not make them again next year. Next time, I think I’ll add some herbs or fancy oil to it to dress them up a bit. Kudos, Chick’s mom!
1 c water
1/2 c olive oil
2 c matzo meal
1 T sugar
1 t salt
non-stick spray, parchment paper, or a silicone mat
- Preheat oven to 375° F.
- Bring water and oil to boil, then lower heat. Add dry ingredients to the pot, beating rapidly with a wooden spoon until the mixture leaves the sides of the pot. Remove from heat.
- One at a time, beat eggs into matzo meal mixture. The dough will be very thick, but beat hard after each egg is added until the mixture is uniform and smooth.
- Grease a baking sheet with non-stick spray. Roll dough into 12 balls (each slightly larger than a golf ball), place on baking sheet, and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until golden brown.
Chicken and Matzo Ball Soup
1 large soup chicken, cut into 1/8s (stewing preferred, but capons are good too)
1 large onion, cut into 1/8s
1 lb carrots, scraped and cut into large bite-sized pieces
4 large celery ribs, cut into large bite-sized pieces
1 c Clausen dill pickle juice (seriously)
Dried herbs – I use Herbes de Provence
- Wash chicken thoroughly and place in a large kettle with the onion. Cover with water.
- Bring to boil on high heat. Skim off the scum that comes to the top. Partially cover the pot and turn the heat down so the soup is simmering. NEVER completely cover a pot of chicken soup while it’s hot. Cook until tender, 2 hours for a stewing chicken, 1-1.5 for a capon.
- Remove chicken and save for later. Add the veggies, pickle juice, parsley and herbs, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add more seasoning to taste.
- Serve with Matzo balls (below) and the chicken previously removed.
- Cool before covering and refrigerating.
Matzo Balls based on Manischewitz’s recipe with out the suggested water/stock. I think it makes it taste oily.
2 tablespoons oil (this year I used my home-made schmaltz! Yep, chicken fat! Though, to be honest, I didn’t taste much of a difference)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup Matzo Meal
Optional: herbes de Provence, parsley, oregano, or salt for extra umph
- Mix fat and eggs together (loosely beaten).
- Add matzo meal and herbs/salt.
- Cover mixing bowl and place in refrigerator for at least twenty minutes.
- Using a two or three quart size pot, bring salted water to a brisk boil.
- Make small balls from the refrigerated “dough.” Put a little oil on your hands to prevent it from sticking.
- Reduce flame and into the slightly bubbling water drop balls formed from above mixture.
- Cover pot and let cook 30-40 minutes. Remove and put into your soup.
- If storing for later, make sure you put a little liquid in the bottom of the container. It helps them keep moist.
Matzo Toffee Crunch!
My friend, Marie – non Jew – found this recipe for me on David Lebovitz’s blog. I’ve also made the one on Epicurious, but David’s oven temps and times are better. I’ve added a bunch to the recipe to make it more fabulous.
4-6 unsalted matzohs
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter or unsalted Passover margarine (warning – margarine makes it less crunchy and more caramelly)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup coarsely chopped bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate (chips make it easy)
1 c toasted nuts (almonds are pretty awesome, but I’ve experimented with other things too, see photo above)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a large cookie sheet completely with foil (make sure it has edges!).
- Line the bottom of the cookie sheet evenly with the matzohs. You’ll have to bust out your Tetris skills to fit the spaces with broken pieces. Do as much as you can here, but neatness doesn’t get you much bonus points. No one will know once it’s done. Promise.
- In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the butter/margarine and the brown sugar over medium heat. Stir constantly, until it comes to a boil (keep stirring for about 3 minutes, until combined). Remove from the heat and pour over the matzoh, covering completely.
- Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Watch it for burning (bad). If it starts to burn, drop the heat to 325. You may have to open the oven for a sec.
- Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle immediately with the chocolate. Let it hang out for 5 minutes, then spread the melted chocolate over the matzoh with a heat-proof spatula.
- The fun part!
You can sprinkle all sorts of fun (passover friendly, please) items on top! This year I tried 3 different kinds. 1. Chai Spice powder, just enough to give it some flavor. 2. Almonds. 3. I sprikled chipotle powder over the surface, then sprinkled roasted and chopped habanero pistachios on top. It is quite the tasty kick!
Some other ideas are: White chocolate (drizzled for a more elegant feel), walnuts, fancy salt, colored sugar, etc. You could even do turkey bacon! (real bacon if not for hard-core Jews or not during passover).
I hope you enjoyed my post as much as I enjoyed my meal. Mazel with your eats, everyone!